Drumbeat: November 15, 2009

Market cornered for rare minerals

As resource-hungry China scours the world for crude oil and natural gas supplies, it has managed to corner the global market for a group of obscure metals used to make iPods, wind farms and electric cars.

The mainland supplies at least 95 percent of the world's rare earths - 17 chemical elements with names such as praseodymium and yttrium - essential for a wide range of high-tech devices and green technologies.

China, which has long recognized the value of these metals, is tightly controlling the supply of these vital natural resources.

The Fallacy Of Alternative Energy

I sympathize with those who, since about the 1960s, have been putting all their money into the bottomless pit of the “alternative energy” industry, but my compassion does not extend to prevarication. There is really no sense in devoting vast amounts of time in trying to prove that 2+2=5. But the case is worse than that: unfortunately, so many people who get into discussions over “alternative energy” have simply never bothered to do their basic homework.

Iraq expects strong competition in new oil bidding

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraq's oil minister said Sunday he expects strong competition among international oil companies in a second round of bidding next month on the country's lucrative oil fields.

Forty-five international oil companies -- including Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron, BP Group PLC., ConocoPhillips and Total SA -- have been cleared to compete for the rights to develop 15 oil fields on offer in 10 projects.

US firms struggle to gain toehold as Iraq rebuilds

AT IRAQ'S Baghdad Trade Fair, six years and $US1 trillion ($A1.07 trillion) after the US invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, one country was conspicuously absent.

That would be the country that spent $US1 trillion on the invasion and occupation, but also on training and equipping Iraqi security forces, and on ambitious reconstruction projects in every province aimed at rebuilding the country and restarting the economy.

Exxon shares poised to shine - Barron's

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Shares in Exxon Mobil Corp, the world's largest publicly traded oil company, could rise more than 20 percent to $90 next year if energy prices increase as expected, Barron's reported on Sunday.

Exxon shares have lagged rivals in the stock market rally this year, falling about 10 percent, but futures contracts anticipate higher energy prices next year that would be a major boost to the company, according to Barron's Nov. 16 edition.

Why Nigeria Will Miss 6,000MW Power Target By Dec

"People should be educated to some extent on how these things work and how they can manage the system to their own advantage. They can be informed how to buy energy efficient appliances that are of low running cost, instead of second hand items that have been rewired out of specifications. Even developed countries are having energy crisis and they are looking seriously to appliances with standby power capabilities."

Let’s start facing up to our need for nuclear debate

One of these days someone, somewhere, is going to have a serious discussion about our future energy needs.

Despite the growing crisis of global warming and the demands for low-carbon alternatives - plus the fact that some experts believe we have already passed the point of ‘peak-oil’ -we remain dependent on imported oil and electricity.

Rail upgrades facing £750m cuts in bid to slash public spending

The £5.5bn Thameslink programme to upgrade one of Britain's busiest rail routes is facing £750m worth of cutbacks in a Treasury crackdown on costly infrastructure projects.

Energy-hogging house or efficient haven? Do numbers lie?

In the early 1980s, after the first “energy crisis,” we built our energy-efficient house.

I’ve felt pretty good about it. We’ve enjoyed lower utility bills for years. So I was confident when I read James Dulley’s “Cut Your Utility Bills” column in the Oct. 25 Chronicle about calculating home-energy efficiency. I was certain our house would register within the “efficient” range.

But just how efficient would the house be almost 30 years later?

Moving Sustainability Forward in Portland

It was standing room only as leaders from government, nonprofit, academic and business groups gathered for two days of meetings in Oregon last week — part of the Portland Metro Climate Prosperity Project, which seeks to promote sustainability in the region.

Environmental Agency Warns 2 Staff Lawyers Over Video Criticizing Climate Policy

The Environmental Protection Agency has directed two of its lawyers to makes changes to a YouTube video they posted that is critical of the Obama administration’s climate change policy.

Turtles Are Casualties of Warming in Costa Rica

Sea turtles are sensitive to numerous effects of warming. They feed on reefs, which are dying in hotter, more acidic seas. They lay eggs on beaches that are being inundated by rising seas and more violent storm surges.

More uniquely, their gender is determined not by genes but by the egg’s temperature during development. Small rises in beach temperatures can result in all-female populations, obviously problematic for survival.

Rainforests could be traded on world market

Why would America's largest coal utility and Britain's biggest oil company invest in protecting a remote plot of Bolivian rainforest?

American Electric Power and BP invested in the pilot project alongside environmental groups such as the Nature Conservancy to find out if protecting forests compensates for their own pollution.

Howard County highway workers come up with gas-saving device

Extracting hydrogen and oxygen from water and burning the gas in your vehicle engine to boost gas mileage and cut emissions? Crazy, many engineers and other experts say.

But four Howard County highway workers say they've made devices to do just that and successfully used them on their own vehicles, and now they have the OK to test them on a couple of county vehicles.

Deffeyes: Halloween Delivery

On Halloween, I delivered the manuscript for my third oil book. At the moment the title is When Oil Peaked. The title is deliberately in the past tense. In my first oil book, Hubbert's Peak, I predicted on page 158 that world oil production would peak in the year 2005. Earlier in these Current Events postings, I refined the prediction to focus on November or December of 2005. Hurricane Katrina put the kibosh on November-December, but 2005 seems to have emerged the winner. The US Energy Information Agency now reports the 2005 production to have been a tiny bit larger than the price-boosted year of 2008. It was a close game, sports fans, but 2005 won. When they give out the Super Bowl rings, they don't look at the point spread.

Production in the first seven months of 2009 is down by about two million barrels per day, with OPEC responsible for most of the reduction. I think it unlikely that oil production will ever climb back to the 2005 levels. A large number of projects have been canceled or postponed. If they ever get reinstated, the older oilfields will have declined more than the postponed projects could produce.

New China refinery contrasts with U.S. slowdown

For refineries, efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions threaten to boost operating costs, while stricter fuel economy rules and rising renewable fuel mandates are cutting into gasoline demand. U.S chemical plants also will struggle as lower-cost plants come online overseas.

By contrast, energy demand is projected to soar in China and other developing nations as more of their vast populations gain wealth in coming years — buying cars, refrigerators and other energy-intensive staples of the middle class.

Nigeria militants start peace talks with president

ABUJA, Nigeria – Nigeria's main militant group in the oil-rich Delta region said Sunday that it had started formal peace talks with the country's president for the first time since it declared an indefinite cease-fire last month.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta called Saturday's dialogue with President Umaru Yar'Adua useful.

Saudi Consumer Prices Rise for 11th Month as Oil Increases

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabian consumer prices rose for an 11th month in October as oil increased in global markets and the dollar’s weakness added to the cost of imported food.

Oil & Natural Gas Says India Considering Increase in Gas Prices

(Bloomberg) -- Oil & Natural Gas Corp., India’s largest state-owned oil explorer, said the government is considering a proposal to increase the administered price of natural gas, without saying where it got the information.

Finding Assets that Out Run Inflation as Bond Yields Move Up

We remember writing about the IEA figure a few years ago. And we remember pointing out that producing 120 million barrels of oil per day would be a 44% increase on producing 83 million barrels per day. And you'd have to find that oil first. You'd have to explore, drill, and produce it. And you'd have to maintain existing production levels at the world's big elephant fields like Cantarell and Ghawar.

In point of fact, production at Cantarell has fallen by 25% since 2004. Energy expert Matthew Simmons says Mexico's days as an oil exporter will end in 18 to 36 months. This makes Mexico's government-which derives 40% of its revenues from oil sales-the most likely candidate for "next failed state."

Could This Lump Power the Planet?

Scientists have been trying to produce energy with fusion for decades. So far, they keep failing. It's not that fusion itself can't be achieved. Fusion takes place in every hydrogen-bomb explosion. The trick is controlling fusion so that instead of a one-time blast you get a series of tiny, controllable explosions. The joke is that fusion energy is only 40 years away, and will always be only 40 years away.

Moses believes, however, that his lab, which is called the National Ignition Facility, or NIF, has cracked the problem.

Scientists find key to creating clean fuel from coal and waste

Millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide could be prevented from entering the atmosphere following the discovery of a way to turn coal, grass or municipal waste more efficiently into clean fuels.

Scientists have adapted a process called "gasification" which is already used to clean up dirty materials before they are used to generate electricity or to make renewable fuels. The technique involves heating organic matter to produce a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, called syngas.

Crude Awakening

"Deep in the heart of the Amazon rain forest, there are people who have lived off the water for a long time who are now forced to eat canned tuna fish because the fish in the river are dead or diseased," he says. "I got back to my nice house in Westchester County and put my kids to bed in their separate bedrooms and took a drink of my tap water and decided, how could I turn my back on these people?"

Homemade Bone Meal: A Partial Solution to Peak Phosphate?

The reason that commercial farmers use bone meal as fertilizer is that it is very high in phosphorous. So purchasing commercially produced bone meal could be argued to be a great way to keep the nutrient cycle going. However, those of us meat eaters who have a problem with factory farming may not be willing to purchase a by-product of the intensive farming industry. So can we make bone meal at home?

Oil industry sinkhole threatens to swallow city

Parts of the New Mexico town near Carlsbad Caverns National Park could collapse because of irresponsible extraction practices by the oil industry.

Copenhagen climate summit hopes fade as Obama backs postponement

Barack Obama acknowledged today that time has run out to secure a binding climate deal at Copenhagen and began moving towards a two-stage process that would delay a legal pact until next year at the earliest.

Why Are Climate Change and Deficit Reduction Considered Mutually Exclusive?

A carbon tax, for example, could raise revenue and reduce carbon emissions at the same time.

Alternatively, the government could auction off allowances under a cap-and-trade system and then designate some or all of the resulting revenues for deficit reduction.

The Real Global Warming Disaster by Christopher Booker

Christopher Booker, Sunday Telegraph columnist and bete noir of climate campaigners, has here produced the definitive climate sceptics' manual. That's to say, he has rounded up just about every criticism ever made of the majority scientific view that global warming, most probably caused by human activity, is under way, and presented them unchallenged. If you share his convictions, you'll love it, and will dismiss the rest of this review as part of the cover-up.

Ray Mears: We'll struggle to survive climate change

The planet will be fine, whether we are is another matter. What's interesting is that the last time we faced climatic fluctuations as a species, we were hunter-gatherers and could up sticks and move. We can't do that now, and we're only just realising that the result of a static lifestyle is that you have to take greater care of the planet.

...I don't think most people will survive climate change. It will be a disaster. We have to adapt to survive and take lessons from nature. Adaptable things do better - the more specialised you become, the more marginal you are.

Farmers scramble to finish harvest from hell!

The United States produces 40 percent of the global corn crop and 35 percent of all soybeans, and is the leading exporter of both commodities...

...By November 1, U.S. farmers had brought in only half the soybean crop and one-quarter of the corn, well below the five-year averages of 87 percent and 71 percent, respectively.

Because of the late harvest, some analysts say the true size of the U.S. corn and soybean crops might not be known until well into 2010 -- possibly even after the USDA issues its "final" production numbers in January.

The effect of weather problems on US agriculture:

Declared current agricultural disaster areas (in yellow):
Disaster Declarations

Harvest conditions have improved dramatically in the Northern Midwest since November 1st. However the condition of the corn crop suffered during the 9 inches of rain we had from around the end of September to around November 1st. I have found some mold on the ears of corn that come from areas near building sites due to the reduced wind apparently.

The main thing I noticed when combining corn is the color. Last year I planted the same variety as this year, but now the color is different. I saved some corn from last year for my corn stoves and had some left over. Last year's corn was a bright yellow. This year's is a darker dingy yellow from standing wet for 5 weeks in rain. Fortunately there is no color test for corn so long as it is not damaged.

Most of the mold is surface mold on the kernels and it disappears into the air during combining and handling. And the kernels with mold are a small percentage of the total. I doubt when it is all blended together at the ethanol plant or in hog/chicken feed that it will make much difference.

Thankfully you've not been affected too badly x. The graph below shows how difficult it has been nationwide, although I believe there's been good progress in the last week (except those affected by the remnants of Ida).

Farmers thankful it’s dry, but harvest far from over

With the growing season so poor and the harvest coming so late, some farmers are questioning whether this year’s corn and soybean crops will meet the USDA’s estimates.

Let's not forget about the pumpkin shortage...first time I've ever heard of this in my life.


Yeah, but the giant jellyfish are blooming... Bwahahahahah!

This is what happens when too many people want to eat Tuna Shushi and the top predators in the food chain are over fished. Even worse news for climate change deniers, and free market capitalists, warming oceans and the pollution from China are good for the jellyfish... I hope you all like jellyfish burgers!


Japanese fishing trawler sunk by giant jellyfish
A 10-ton fishing boat has been sunk by gigantic jellyfish off eastern Japan.

Scientists find key to creating clean fuel from coal and waste

So they found a VERY inefficient way to reform H2 out of CxHxOx, and if we find a way to bury all the CO and don't allow any CO2 to escape from the process, it will be 'clean'

Sound about right?

Re: The Real Global Warming Disaster by Christopher Booker

It's amazing the effort that goes into disproving a theory (Global Warming) that has already reached a general consensus among scientists that specialize in climate science. Is it the same groups that denied the connection between cigarette smoking and lung cancer and emphysema that drive the skepticism? What is so complex about the notion that if the ice caps melt the world's climate patterns will change in fundamental ways? An ice free arctic is not a "good thing". Climate change isn't some future event. It's right now.


Is it the same groups that denied the connection between cigarette smoking and lung cancer and emphysema that drive the skepticism?

It is a combination of things. One is commercial interests, and these folks are hiring many of the same lawyers and PR firms who fought in the tobacco wars. But there is a large component of people who are completely phobic about government, and they see any admission of GW as opening the door to more regulation. To them, a warmer climate is a trifling concern, but someone telling them what to do is percieved as the end of the world. Add in anti-intellectualism and anti-science for some folks, plus a dose of good old fashioned religion and you get a potent mix. The religious opposition takes two forms: (1) I am going to be raptured away, and all the evil people will be left to burn, bring it on! To another group god make the earth, and it is the height of arrogance to even suggest that mere man could mess up his creation, for HE controls the weather. A psuedo scientific variation of that last them
e, man is small and cannot control the weather, therefore he can't aff
ect the climate. Pure conflation of the inability to control a chaotic
system, versus being able to affect the statistics of it.

Then you get a kind of partisan commitment to past political coalit
ion building. The right has choosen to be anti-GW, anti-environmentali
st, and anti-science, and perceives a huge price to pay from switching
. So the reaction is to double down, rather than quietly change.

Ah, come on Joe, the issue with global warming isn't akin to lung cancer and smoking, it's about man made vs natual factors. If climate change is 90% or so driven by nature, there is virtually nothing we can do that would have any real impact. The skeptics, like me, are not unconcerned with climate change, nor do we think reducing our carbon footprint is a bad thing, but we question the rush to impose Al Gore restrictions on fossil fuel energy use without confirmation that man is primarily responsible for the climate change. If we impose draconian restrictions on fossil fuel use without that confirmation, a lot of people around the world will suffer. And, if it's as bad as you think, it's probably too late to do anything about it anyway.

Actually, one can differentiate between human-generated carbon in the atmosphere, due to burning of fossil fuels, and natural sources, because the chemical signatures for the two sources are different.

see the attached paper :- (pdf warning)


It has already been confirmed that Climate Change has been found to be largely due to human action.

Joe isn't saying that global warming is akin to getting lung cancer from smoking, he is saying that the same paid deniers that said smoking does not cause cancer are saying climate change is not man-made.


The same strategy is being used to confuse the issue, and based on your response, people are falling for it.

Obviously, they were wrong about smoking not causing cancer, and they are wrong about humans not causing climate change. The facts have been in for quite some time.

How can you be a skeptic? Do you know enough physics, chemistry, biology, and statistical analysis of time-series? Without that knowledge, one cannot be a skeptic, one is just choosing whose opinion to believe.

If all professionals in the field of climate science are wrong, then most physics and chemistry is wrong, all the way back to the mid-18th century. We basically have to discard all of chemistry starting with Lavoisier's Oxygen theory of combustion and Newton's Optics, and start again. Good luck with that.

And, if it's as bad as you think, it's probably too late to do anything about it anyway.

The science does not say that. It says that if we do enough now, we will avoid the worst problems. Economics says it is profitable to do what should be done - profitable overall, that is.

The only problem is that a very few people, who are making a lot of money now, will make less in future, unless they change what they do. So they're spoiling it for the rest of us. Their position amounts to burning down the house rather than agreeing to use the back door instead of the front.

Time to change whom you believe.

Several decades ago, it was global cooling. Now it's global warming. I've been around 73+ years, and, I am only a reasonably intelligent man. Well read, but I am no expert in any particular science or technology. I remember the 60ies and 70ies when the planet was going to run out of food. It seems to me that we move into panic mode very quickly, and that's what i think many are doing right now. I've seen it before, and it has proven to be unfounded. I suspect this will prove to be the same. By the way, there are a good many in the field of science (the minoity I grant you) who are spectics on global warming and/or it's causes.

joebbryner,on the evidence of your posts I dispute your claim to being reasonably intelligent.

In addition your posts illustrate the proposition that age does not necessarily promote wisdom.

They predicted global cooling in the 1970s, from Climate change: A guide for the perplexed, published in New Scientist. Any caveat you care to name has been addressed in this topic; some of the evidence is still being built up but the overall message is beyond refute at this stage.

Three year-old articles - not three year-old science - is your proof?

Cooling since '98? Shows you do not understand the difference between data and trend. This needs no elucidation or links. If you think a 10-year trend line drawn from an anomalously warm El Nino year equals climate, you are not qualified to speak on the topic.

The average of the last decade is warmer than any other previous decade going back millions of years. Long term averages DO actually tell us something - which is why climate trends are drawn over periods of thirty years or more. Oh, and the claim that '98 was the warmest year stands with only one set of data that EXCLUDES arctic temps. Given arctic temp changes are larger than anywhere else, that's bordering on stupid. Use stats correctly, please.

Finally, the only way to show a trend of cooling is to use ONLY '98. Any other year and you get warming. So, you would base your understanding on the effects of one anomalous year? Great science? Great logic? No. It's partisan and ignores math you learn in elementary school.

Global Cooling in the 70's? A flat out lie propagated by liars and bad journalism.


Please don't post on topics if you have not bothered with the most elementary investigation or analysis.


I remember the 60ies and 70ies when the planet was going to run out of food.

Actually, this is a gross mischaracterization of the Club of Rome/"Limits to Growth" POV. No one --not even Paul Ehrlich himself-- has ever said "the planet was going to run out of food", just that the earth is a finite system, and that exponential "growth" (population, economic, industrial, non-resource consumption, etc.) cannot logically continue forever.

Where the Club of Rome/"Limits to Growth" crowd got it wrong back in the 60's & 70's was not recognizing the potential for petrol-based fertilizers to greatly improve crop yields in the short term (the so called "Green Revolution" --see previous posts on Norman Borlaug).

Unfortunately, as we are now facing the other side of Hubbert's Peak, the Green Revolution's better days are likely behind us. And with a population of nearly 7 billion vs 4 billion, the virtually inevitable population overshoot "correction" that is coming will dwarf what might have happened had the Green Revolution never taken place. In other words, scientists like Normal Borlaug, acting under the best of intentions (to prevent mass starvation), have ensured that the human population is now *even more* unsustainable and less prepared to handle the post-peak decline we are now confronted with.

As they say, "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions".

Several decades ago, it was global cooling.

It was never global cooling. A couple of people said something about cooling thirty years ago and time wrote an article. That was not "science" saying that, just one or two guys. But it makes a great ad hominem "they can't make up their minds, so the hell with um". There is a huge amount of disinformation about. Many of the people who spread it simply believed the claims without suspecting it was made up to serve someones agenda, and are unsuspecting agents of disinformation.

Very few of these skeptics are climate scientists. A couple of years back a list of skeptics was published (I think Inhofe was involved). Most were engineers or TV weatherman. A few scientists who vehemently disagreed with the petition they supposedly signed were included as well. GW by greenhouse gases is really pretty simple physics. Probably the greatest sources of disbelief are that (1) The effect is invisable -being in the thermal infrared part of the spectrum, and (2) all the GHG we are adding are only changing the planets heat balance by a percent or two. Sounds pretty tame. But raise the planets temperature by a percent or two (.01 to .02) time 289Kelvin, and the change is a big deal.

If you go back to my previous posts, you will see a list of motivations for the skeptics. These are very powerful motivators for quite a few people. Just because someone has a nice speaking voice, and share your general world view, doesn't mean what they are saying is going to be the truth.

My, you guys take no prisoners. Pity, seems like anyone who disagrees with the official TOD doctrine on global warming, must be subject to nasty personal comments. I doubt that I will again post on this site, and I'm sure I won't be missed. By the way, I believe the evidence suports we have reached the limits of our oil production capabilities (I am a Peak oiler). But, this will defititely clinch your view of my lack of intelligence, I am passionately pro-life.

While there are many people on TOD that agree that Global Warming is a problem, I doubt that there is any TOD "official doctrine". There are several scientific organizations that have issued position statements in which they agree with the science behind the problem. Here's one from the American Geophysical Union.

There is a new statement from the UN with an estimate that there are 1 Billion people on Earth in danger of starvation. Once Peak Oil is past, it will become ever more difficult to provide enough food even for the current World population, let alone the numbers who may be here in future if projected increases occur. In a sense, your "pro-life" stance will make the food problem worse, since adding more people will just result in more starvation. Are you really in favor of more starvation?

E. Swanson

The end never justifies the means. Killing innocent people to save the world doesn't wash. "Thou shalt not kill" says it all for me. By the way, I heard a report from a medical doctor last year to the effect that the surplus wealth of the 4% richest people on earth could feed, cloth, shelter and provide education for the other 96%. Frankly, that sounds quite believable. We are not here for ourselves alone, but rather to see that others share in the basic needs of life. How do we do that: one person at a time. The idea that there is a global solution to the world's problems (all we need to do is get rid of a billion people here and a billion people there, etc.)is simplitic and seriouly misguided. Recall the 20th century. At the beginning of that century, there was absolute confidence on the part of the scientific and educated elites of Europe, that the world's future was as bright as it ever had been. Science and advances in wisdom would prevent any more wars.

Well, the 20th century with all it's idealism and so called wisdom, turned out to be brutal beyound measure. Man's inhumanity to man by tyrants of that age leave us gasping in horror. I fear that those proposing many of the solutions to the world's problems that I read from time to time on TOD, will give us another Hitler, or Stalin or Mao. I have come to the conclusion that unless I care about everybody else's life, I have no right to demand protection for my own. That is why I am passionately pro-life.

You are correct in stating man is inhuman to man. It it the reason Peak Oil, Climate Change, and Greed (Financial Meltdown) need to be addressed ASAP. Every day we delay will result in the starvation, death from disease, or slaughter of tens of thousands later on. Every new birth will be one more death during the decline. Sure, we could force the rich to give to the rest of us, but most of that wealth is paper wealth and will vanish when our financial system collapses.

Overpopulation is extremely simple, not simplistic, as evidenced every year in parts of Africa. In spite of massive foreign aid, famine, disease, and war kill millions in Africa each year. The two countries with the fastest population growth in the world are Niger and Uganda at 3.66 and 3.56% respectively. Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo come in at number six and seven in the world with population growth rates of 3.20 and 3.17% respectively. Just more bodies for the slaughter. Abortion is not the crime, having children you can't support is. Watch a child die from starvation before taking such a hard stand on abortion. When you have only enough food to keep one of two children alive, which child will you choose?

We are going down. The question is how far and how fast. Given how the recent financial crisis snuck up on us, I think it is safe to say that most people don't have a clue.

I am in favor of giving-up all frivolous consumption in order to provide food to humanity. How many pro-lifers have kitties and doggies and the other assortment of home pets and realize that feeding them denies others of life-giving nourishment. We could feed a nation if we denied ourselves the pleasure of pets. Call the newly freed calories "Human Chow" and ship it to those most in need. Ship the excess canines to Vietnam and call it "Dinner Time". Pro-lifers need to have a broader view of their moral responsibility although the popularity of pet cemeteries seems to indicate a perception of soul amongst non-human companions. Which soul is most valuable, the dog's or the starving human in Africa?

Why I am gonna get ride of my pets?

At this point, with an emotional attachment already present, I would keep them, but would consider carefully the cost of keeping a menagerie in the future. Pets and lawns can be big money sinks that will likely be greatly diminished in the future. However, you could share the dinner the cat drops on the front porch and a smallish scrappy dog with big ears and a loud bark may be beneficial.

And, after all, if you and others were to get rid of your pets, the aristocracy in the countries hosting starving human populations would keep their pets and confiscate the human chow that would have resulted from us having fewer pets.

You cannot be anti-AGW and pro-life. They are mutually exclusive stances. It's like some people who are "pro-life" and pro-death penalty. It doesn't wash. It shows a lack of basic logical analysis, most likely due to the influence of ideology.

In fact, your stance is not yours. It was created and packaged for you. This indicates a complete disregard for human life. That is, if you would ignore the science in favor of ideology, then you have given over your reason to those who would manipulate you as they wish. In your case,they have been successful.

You need to read "Smoke and Mirrors" from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

You need to watch "The American Denial of Global Warming" by Naomi Oreskes.

You need to read the NYT article on the smoking gun memo proving groups such as the Global Climate Coalition (more accurately, the Global Climate Denial Coalition for the Advancement of Corporate Profits - and that's not hyperbole) knew that when they said global warming wasn't real and/or wasn't anthropogenically forced, they were lying. Their own scientists told them it couldn't be denied. Yet, they did, and still do.

Did you know there is not one, not one, study of climate science that refutes global warming? At least, none that has withstood peer review.

Not one. That should shock you into reality, but it won't. Your belief is just that, belief. It's not based in analysis or in reading the science, it's based in your ideology and need to follow blindly the paragons of your party/ideological bent.


Thanks CCPO,

I appreciate your reasoned and impassioned responses to folks like this. I just don't know how to deal with the 30% +/- (??) or whatever of the population that engages in magical thinking.

These days I just carry on, try to be a good example, work towards saving myself and loved ones, and ignore them and hope they'll go away while not encouraging them.

These folks scare me!.

Ignoring them and playing patty cake with them is what got us where we are, which is why I refuse to do so. My son still has a small chance at a fairly normal life.

...Till I go down
I'm not gonna shut my mouth
I'm for the truth to come out..

till I go down
I'm not gonna close my eyes
Till I go down...

- Till I Go Down by Jackson Browne


I think you are missing the point entirely. I don't think there's a call for intentionally killing those billions who may now be starving. Thomas Malthus was probably correct but he could not have anticipated the impacts of oil and natural gas on agricultural production.

Suppose you have a large pasture and use it to feed some cows thru the year. If there is enough grass there to feed x number of cows, when you add a few more, they all starve when winter comes around and there isn't enough grass to keep them all alive thru the winter until the next "crop" of grass pops up in spring. The same is true for the other agricultural products we use as food. At the limit, adding a few more people will result in more starvation locally, perhaps total population crash. Add in some climate variability and the problem can become much worse, as the Vikings may have found out in Greenland after the Kuwae eruption in 1452.

It's not about the unequal distribution of wealth, although distribution of the available food sources could alleviate some of the starvation problem presently found. It's that at some point, the total food supply won't be able to grow fast enough to keep up with the population. Without the AG chemicals provided by oil and natural gas, or the shipping from areas of plenty to areas without, which is also fueled by oil, starvation will be the result.

Everyone who is in favor of the so-called "pro-life" position must accept responsibility for this truth. Are you personally willing to give up most of your income and wealth to send food to those presently without enough? I doubt you would and that would prove you to be a hypocrite in same sense the word is used in the Bible.

E. Swanson

joebbryner,I agree with you in the idea seems like that anyone who disagrees with any topic must be subject to nasty personal comments.I see in this kind of forums that we are not to find a common way but to try to show the other guy what type of smart-ass we are.And if I personally believe in global warming(because the US Army and the US Navy believe in it too),I think that we must try to find a way to fix our problems and not waste our time in fighting each other.

It seems to me that we move into panic mode very quickly, and that's what i think many are doing right now. I've seen it before, and it has proven to be unfounded.

Yes, it's true - previous "crises" have proved to be unfounded, in that we could and did change our behaviour enough to delay or avoid them. But we only acted when we could see the problem - remember all those TV news items featuring starving African kids? That attitude, "wait until we can see the problem," is why there is always a panic.

Mass famine was reduced in the 70s by tapping some natural capital - the greater per-acre yields possible with high-fertiliser-response rice and wheat, and a great deal of ground-water -- and some human capital: pumps, dams, fertiliser plants and the like. Fortunately, this was very cheap, and quite quick to roll out. Even so, it was touch-and-go. We were lucky - that the potential was there, that it was easy to tap into, and that the fix was quick.

However, it seems to me that the global warming/ocean acidification problem is two problems, one on top of the other.

The surface problem is like food, i.e. essentially political,* but much more difficult to solve. We know what has to be done, and it makes sense (and dollars) to do those things anyway; but we're just not doing them.

Why? Because it requires a lot of people to change what they do in their daily lives, and more importantly, they must change what they aspire to. People prefer not to believe that change is needed until those starving kids show up on TV.

The other, underlying, problem is a real one of exponentially accelerating change, like a landslip that, when first noticed, is moving at 1 millimetre per month. Then it goes to 2 millimetres per month. Then 1 millimetre per week... you can see where this ends, I hope.

Keep acidifying the oceans and we will lose a major source of food - fish. Keep insulating the surface of the earth with CO2, and we will have heat-waves, droughts, and floods, the like of which we haven't seen before. Delay action, and the problems get twice as hard to fix. Then four times. Then eight times.... By the time you can see the starving kids on TV, we'll have to change a heck of a lot in a heck of a hurry. People get hurt when that happens.

The underlying problem is what makes global warming/ocean acidification different. This is not a problem of political power games and untapped potential. This is a problem of used-up potential, accelerating landslides ... and political power games. Sigh.

* The technical problems are solved. We have a whole slew of technical actions, all ready to go if they can get the capital. If we take all of them, or even half of them, we can avert the worst effects of global warming/ocean acidification. Without even breathing hard.


Let me begin by saying that I am not a skeptic-although I became a believer later than a lot of others.I took me a while to decide that natural variations are not the cause of the recent changes.

As it happens I do have the basic sciences, excepting the statistics.

I would still be a skeptic IF we had only the actual evidence of warming-which is to my mind very real and quite indisputable.Anyone who is seriously into agriculture and has access to the news cannot doubt that it's getting hotter, and has been , for quite a while.

But there IS a problem with accepting the word of any establishment and it is summed up in that pithy saying about a man not understanding something if his paycheck depends on his not understanding it.You must not understand climate change skepticism if you desire acceptance in the establishment community.

Anyone who expects to get a job or a position of any sort in science of any kind, or journalism (for the most part)knows when to keep his mouth shut.Political momentum can build consensus that cannot be questioned.If you want to work ,or maybe even be admitted to a good school, you must believe.

There are one hell of a lot of people collecting nice checks out of climate change.

This huge -HUGE HUGE-I REPEAT HUGE-body of our best researchers as a group apparently failed to investigate the assumptions of the economists and THIER work at face value in regard to ff use, etc, when plenty of research was being done on depletion that seems to have been OVERLOOKED.

To make it short and sweet, we should always be skeptical of accepting the work of any group of people who get a check every month out of agreeing with each other.

The sciences advance as much by funerals as by research sometimes.

But as I said , I am a believer-because for one I do have the basic science my self, and two , there is plenty of evidence other than the average atmospheric temperature figures which I must accept on trust, not having the science or the time to investigate thier validity.

We need to understand that the public does have some reason to question the science-there are lots of groups of people out there advocating for "thisnthat" for reasons of thier own,and skepticism is warranted.Look where a lack of skepticism has landed us when some body came up with the "God and I'm his representative " theory. ;-)

"How can you be a skeptic?"
I am a skeptic precisely because I am part of the 99.5% who do not have an adequate background in chemistry and physics to understand the entire theory. (I can follow the basic scientific equation that all things being equal, a doubling of CO2 leads to a 2.2 degree increase, but not all of the cofactors that might increase or reduce this impact.) If I accepted GW without reservation, I would be at risk of of seeing the emperor's new clothes.

I think you are misapplying skepticism. Skepticism really means, in terms of science, remaining objective and continuing to ask questions. It does not mean to doubt the veracity of people. That's a lack of trust, not skepticism.

Further, skepticism is only appropriate up to the point when a fact is established. Can you explain gravity? Do you understand the physics involved in as simple a thing as, say, an earthquake? I know you understand the basic mechanics, but do you truly understand the physics and numbers and how, why and when earthquakes happen? No? Do you doubt they exist? No.

The science of climate change is simply not something that can be challenged legitimately at this point without a major overturning of some basic processes.

I repeat: show me one paper that comes anywhere close to refuting climate change science. The closest yet is a flawed paper on tropospheric temp transfer or some such. And all it did was suggest some doubt about how much energy gets transferred about in one part of the atmosphere in one area of the globe. In other words, the best the denialists can do is suggest an elephant doesn't exist because the toenail on the big toe of its right foot is missing.

Yeah, we should all doubt the massive mountain of evidence for climate change in favor of that missing toenail. /sarc


If we impose draconian restrictions on fossil fuel use without that confirmation, a lot of people around the world will suffer. And, if it's as bad as you think, it's probably too late to do anything about it anyway.

Has it ever occurred to you that if we continue to decimate ecosystems around the globe that we might be sawing off the limb we are sitting on? It isn't just about fossil fuels or CO2 emissions, it is precisely about needing draconian measures to steer the ship away from disaster on multiple fronts.

And if it is as bad as the scientists from many different disciplines think then you are right we are screwed. Though I would much prefer to slam on the brakes before we plow into the wall a full speed. It might make the difference between a few survivors or none at all.

Laurence Gonzalez has a great book http://www.deepsurvival.com/
You might recognize yourself in there, you probably think a lot like those who end up being one of the statistics. BTW this book is not a doomer's survival manual. It is a cold hard look at the facts, the mindset and preparation necessary for survival in the most varied of circumstances. In a way it is a lot more like Taleb's "Black Swan".

Q: What is the most important characteristic of the survivor?

A: To have a solid inner core. At heart, a survivor trusts himself and relies on himself. He or she is confident, but also humble. Survival is always a balancing act between opposing skills or forces. And when the crisis comes, he doesn't say, “Oh, my God, how could this have happened to me?” A survivor doesn't complain or blame others. He or she says, “Okay, what's the next right thing to do to get out of this? I know that there is always one more thing I can do, and I'm going to do whatever it takes. I'm going to do my best.” That's survivor thinking.

Whatever that next thing is it sure as hell doesn't include this kind of thinking:

And, if it's as bad as you think, it's probably too late to do anything about it anyway.

Those are the people that the survivors later tell of that stuck their heads into the ocean and drank deeply when they ran out of fresh water on their life raft out in the middle of the sea.

"Parts of the New Mexico town near Carlsbad Caverns National Park could collapse because of irresponsible extraction practices by the oil industry."

This story doesn't mention any effort by governments to make the contractors liable for the damage. I find it amazing that the trucking company could just abandon the site and move away without recriminations. Can anyone advise if government agencies are going after these guys? No wonder the petroleum industry has a bad image!

I think the problem is that it is a hypothetical emergency. The city and county councils preemptively declared an emergency because they thought the cavern might collapse.

However, you need to to seismic on a salt cavern such as this to determine the size and areal extent and if there is or is not a problem.

If seismic shows things are perfectly under control, the city and county may end up eating all of the costs.

I've been involved in caverns such as these, however the oil company was using them for sand disposal from oil wells, and just replacing salt with sand. I was designing the software that told them how much salt had been produced, how big the cavern was, and how much sand they could put in it. Notwithstanding that, every so often they recalibrated the size estimates with seismic.

"a hypothetical emergency.."

But Rocky, isn't that sort of the point for this whole site?

Peak Oil and Climate Change are also essentially 'Hypothetical Emergencies'.. even if they can already have some provable effects today, it's that the BAU world hasn't seen that they need to do anything until 'AFTER' a catastrophe is right on top of us .. so we seem to describe anyone with the gall to suggest that we read at least a few of the tea leaves and make some reasonable preparations as an alarmist or a troublemaker.

Was there any indication that this trucking company had been taking the precautions that you have described? I might have missed it, but it was made to sound like they moved on, leaving that part of town hanging over a potential drop.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) is ~ 26 miles East of Carlsbad...far enough away from any of this activity to be unaffected.


Some of the locals told me a few years ago that there was quite a lot of brackish water down Carlsbad way and that some people had considered desalinating that water and pumping it North West so that Albuquerque could expand westward towards the Rio Puerco River and grow towards the size of the Phoenix metro area.

Thank reason, crony capitalism, and catabolic collapse that these plans will likely never be realized. Not every piece of land needs to be paved over...and imagine the sinkholes down by Carlsbad and Artesia if we sucked all the brine up, desalinated it, and pumped it up to ABQ and over to Las Cruces and El Paso!

The Guardian today: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/nov/15/oil-industry-peak-oil-pro...

"Energy security body calls for 'urgent' review of impact of oil shortages"

Virgin, Stagecoach and Yahoo among firms calling for measures to address economic dislocation from a sudden rise in oil prices

An industry organisation that includes Virgin and Yahoo has called on the government to "urgently" reassess its dismissive view about the potential threat and impact of oil shortages.

The call from the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security comes after revelations in the Guardian that there is dissent inside the International Energy Agency (IEA) about how soon the world may run out of supplies.

It also comes alongside a petition to Number 10 which calls on Gordon Brown to take up the issue more seriously amid a growing number of reports that indicate the situation is more urgent than many believed.

The Wicks Review into energy issues, published in August on behalf of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, gave scant regard to peak oil issues.

Will Whitehorn, the taskforce chairman, who is also president of Virgin Galactic, Sir Richard Branson's space travel business, said: "Given the revelations from within the IEA, we hope the government will be urgently reviewing the complacent approach to peak-oil risk evident in the Wicks Review."

"It also comes alongside a petition to Number 10 which calls on Gordon Brown to take up the issue more seriously"

This was the man who sold off much of Britain's gold reserves back when it was $200. Although to be fair to him, it was Maggie Thatcher who sold off most of the North Sea oil for $10.

The man has less than 12 months to live in power -do you really think he gives a sh*t?


Much less than 12 months. The five years run from the first meeting of Parliament following a UK Parliamentary general election. The current Parliament was first summoned on Wednesday 11 May 2005, so will cease to exist at midnight on Monday 10 May 2010. A general election to elect the new Parliament must be held by no later than Thursday 3 June 2010.

Of course he cares, he cares deeply about being re-elected, that's why he will launch a list of populist measures that are designed chiefly to make life difficult for the opposition - rather than the well being of the country, e.g. to tear up “risky” bankers’ contracts. There are very few votes to be won on Peak Oil.

I find it quite amazing that not even one of the world's governments is taking peak oil seriously. You would think that there would be at least some powerful government officials somewhere on Earth that understand the urgency of peak oil. What is it going to take to see some movement?

There are governments that seem to be taking energy/climate change issues more seriously than others. Unfortunately, the most powerful/influential appear to be drinking the IEA kool-ade. Among the more serious I would count:

The Netherlands

IIRC most of these countries are making significant investments in alternative energy production/research as can be seen from the mix of the sources of their electricity and or the trends in the mix. In the case of China, based on the prominence of people with a science/engineering background in their government, they gotta know and they probably are making plans.

The thing is, the day a country like China makes some grand pronouncement concerning Peak Oil, there will likely be some sort of panic as the deniers think, "Geez, if the Chinese are taking this seriously there must be something to it after all."

As for the two most prominent holdouts (US, UK), I think Peak Oil is going to have the most dramatic effect on their way of life since, BAU for them most requires the continuation of economic growth and the consumption of massive amounts of energy/stuff.

For those in less developed world the effect could be anywhere from having to give up recently acquired personal transport in the form of a car to starving to death but neither of those scenarios has ever been a terrible bother most citizens of the G20.

At any rate as more nation join OFPEC (the O of Formerly PEC), more governments will begin to realize the deep excrement we are in.

Alan from the islands

Ireland too!

Eamon Ryan (Energy Minister, from the Green Party) is close to Colin Campbell and is himself a former ASPO member. Apparently, he is also making plans for post-Peak Oil... (how to deal with oil shortages)

And France is starting to do some good work (carbon tax, electric cars, high-speed electric trains...). The fact that Total (and de Margerie in particular) talks a lot about the topic (e.g. oil shortages before 2015…) helps, and de Margerie is very influent. Sweden is not bad too.

The UK government is totally incompetent! So is the EU Energy Commissioner… unfortunately!

This is the 2nd PO article in a few days and appears to be getting some UK discussion. If it makes it into the FT and the economists start on it then you might get some traction.

As for real progress what could there be? Electric cars (because there are just so many of those around - have you seen the waiting times for a Prius Hybrid?)??

Government income is a function of petrol prices which confuses things (~60% tax) - this obviously fails if demand fails but how can it - can you afford not to go to work?

Strange how we had fuel strikes from tanker drivers at 100p/l and now we are 112p/l and rising. Where did they go?

Your point is well taken Frugal but I suspect you would agree that China has taken PO very seriously. They've spent many billions of $'s securing future production. But that makes your point even more significant: every gov't readily sees what China is doing. And their reaction?

It goes back to a basic question: does the US gov't not appreciate PO or do they understand it but won't take the short term(a political suicide) steps which won't benefit them until they are long out of office. Take your pick: stupidity or selfishness.

Yes I agree that China seems to be aware of some kind of future energy crunch. Their response isn't consistent though.

On one hand they're acquiring all the oil and gas resources that they can get their hands on. On the other hand, they're on a highway building spree and are encouraging automobile ownership, or at least not discouraging it. I'm not convinced that China fully grasps peak oil. They may however be one of the the first countries to admit it when it no longer can be denied.

They are encouraging car ownership. They are subsidizing car purchases in order to juice their economy, just as we did.

Kind of hard to believe they are planning for peak oil given their pursuit of happy motoring: highways, cars, suburbs, etc.

I think their buying of oil fields is more a way to diversify their investment - that is, get rid of dollars - than a peak oil plan.

No. There are too many statements from officials on the topic. Don't mistake dealing with reality with awareness of the problem. Their short-term goals may be to keep the economy afloat, but at the same time they are moving aggressively into renewable energy. Which do you think tells you more about long-term planning?


We're all moving aggressively into renewable energy.

As someone else pointed out, China's plan seems to be to sell renewable energy infrastructure to the rest of the world, just as they are selling shoes, TVs, etc.

No. Some of are moving into renewables. There is nothing aggressive about the US response. It is severely limited, in fact, in comparison to the need.

Good! Sell us all we need.

The real underlying problem is that they will be playing political oneupmanship/chicken with their energy/products.

China is eying the #1 spot jealously, and far too eagerly.

Still, they're not futzing around with climate change, they're positioning.


On one hand they're acquiring all the oil and gas resources that they can get their hands on. On the other hand, they're on a highway building spree and are encouraging automobile ownership

I think that the two are not mutually exclusive - the way to encourage China's new middle class to buy vehicles is also to demonstrate that (at least in the short term), the supply for those vehicles has been "secured".

Of course, China has also always played the long game, and is currently trying to connect the more remote reaches of the country by building transportation links, such as the Qingzang Railway, proposed in 1912, started in the 1980s but not fully completed as far as Lhasa in Tibet until 2005.

A network of highways would still be usable even without private vehicles to run on them - the PLA could find them very useful, just as General Wade did in the UK in the mid 1700s to ensure that his army could suppress any Jacobite insurgents.


China has taken PO very seriously. They've spent many billions of $'s securing future production.

And they are spending additional billions kickstarting an electric car industry. And they are planning to double wind power every year till at least 2020. And they are becoming the world manufacturing center for solar panels. I don't think they are leaving many stones unturned.

And They are creating a good nuclear industry.China plans to quadruple its nuclear power; by the end of next year, it may have 18 nuclear energy plants under construction, half of the world's total under construction.

Take your pick: stupidity or selfishness.

I vote primarily for the former. These guys are bureaucrats and planners. Mostly from a business or legal background, you can't expect them to understand the geologic issues. Then we have a huge wrecking crew saying no problemo -remaining reserves are good for several decades. The question of how real or how fast they can be acessed probably doesn't cross their minds, because the "experts" like M Lynch and D Yergin tell them it isn't a problem. Certainly someone like Chu would be able to see through this, but is he just too busy with other matters?

Hello, E of S,

Re: Secretary Chu. Here is a good explanation of what's going on with him:

Sad. (For the US - and the world.)

I wouldbet that Saudi Arabia is taking it very seriously. But they are careful not to reveal their cards. They'd rather maximize gains from oil exports while they have them, then switch to selling solar power. Freaking out their customers by letting them know the game will be over sooner than they think is not in their interest.

Bubble trouble: have prices already risen too much, too soon?

Batra says that in the US there has been a profound mismatch between the increased supply of goods from improved productivity and the squeeze on real wages dating back to Ronald Reagan's presidency. "Greenspan resorted to debt creation and budget deficits to bring demand and supply into balance," he says. Turner says bubbles reflect how global capitalism now works, with firms moving operations offshore to cut wage costs, leaving demand in the world's major economies so weak that it can only be kept going by spoon-feeding consumers with cheap credit.

New Book Release :

"Climate Cover-Up
The Crusade to Deny Global Warming" by James Hoggan with Richard Littlemore

"Starting in the early 1990s, three large American industry groups set to work on strategies to cast doubt on the science of climate change. Even though the oil industry’s own scientists had declared, as early as 1995, that human-induced climate change was undeniable, the American Petroleum Institute, the Western Fuels Association (a coal-fired electrical industry consortium) and a Philip Morris-sponsored anti-science group called TASSC all drafted and promoted campaigns of climate change disinformation."


Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble


I don't know if anyone had posted this yet, but I thought it was very interesting. This is an idea I had been thinking about for a long time, to return much Midwestern and Western land to prairie. I don't know how much chance it has of going through...


That's really interesting.

I suspect that one way or another, it's going to happen. Even if peak oil means people want to return to farming, there isn't enough water there.

Returning degraded agricultural and pastoral land in marginal areas to something resembling it's natural state is something that must happen in many countries.It will be a long process but there will be returns in soil and water conservation and in locking up carbon dioxide.Some of these areas may eventually be able to sustain some sort of carefully controlled harvest of their resources.

As for regeneration of aquifers,this may happen over a long period but sometimes over-extraction of water damages the water bearing strata making it less likely to recharge.

sometimes over-extraction of water damages the water bearing strata making it less likely to recharge.

If the aquifer is unconsolidated sediment, removing the water may irreversably collapse the pore space. If it is porous rock it is probably still capable of holding water.

However, if the aquifer is overlying rock strata that contain toxic compounds that can be leached by flowing water, then extracting water faster than it is naturally replenished by horizontal water flows or by rain soak through can result in the aquifer being poisoned as water below wells up. (Please excuse my very non-technical language!) I believe this is happening to major aquifers in Australia.


According to zfacts.com, the US Federal debt is now $12.085 trillion. In five days it will exceed the Congress set debt limit of $12.104 trillion. This Federal debt does not include the Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac debts and losses that the Government now controls. Nor does it include the guarantees of the FED and Treasury in TARP and other emergency plans. If these debts were added to the Federal Debt, which more than a few believe should be done, then our Federal Debt would now probably exceed our GDP. As our Federal debt goes up $200 million an hour and over $4 billion a day, our GDP to Federal debt ratio will be in the stratosphere of national debts in the world in no time at all.
I wish Washington would stop pretending that serious consequences cannot occur just because we are a huge economy.

Compared to the US, Japan has a much larger debt as a percentage of GDP, and will almost certainly have a larger 2009 deficit as a percentage of GDP. In most of the other areas that are cast as the cause of an impending US collapse -- aging population, dependence on foreign oil -- Japan is also in worse shape than the US. If US collapse is imminent, shouldn't Japan have folded long before this?

Mc, In 1989, the Japanese stock market was 39,000.Today it is 10,000. The Japanese real estate market went down for around 20 years. As far as oil is concerned, Japan has been a leader in conservation for more than 50 years, as they have always depended on imported oil. As far as consumers are concerned, Japanese are much more conservative than Americans. Who said anything about collapse?

"Energy-hogging house or efficient haven? Do numbers lie? "

How energy efficient is your house?

1.Find out how many kilowatt hours of electricity, cubic feet of natural gas, gallons of propane and heating oil, and cords of wood you use in one year.
2.Convert to Btus. 1 kilowatt-hour of electricity equals 3,414 Btu, 1 cubic foot of natural gas equals 1,025 Btu, 1 gallon of propane equals 91,000 Btu, 1 gallon of heating oil equals 138,700 Btu, and 1 cord of wood equals 19 million Btu.
3.Divide the total number of Btus by the sum of the cooling- and heating-degree days (7,355 for Muskegon).
4.Divide the result by your home’s square footage.
5.If the result is under 10, you’re solidly energy efficient; 10-20, you’re doing fine; more than 20, you could stand to make some improvements.

I just did the calculation for my house (solar heat and hot water, for the rest, pretty typical 100-year-old house, 1700 sq ft, rehabbed in 2000).

I came in at 7.2 ! That was pretty unexpected - my personal conservation strategy must be working....

Congratulation, ST.

Here's how the numbers work out for me:

Household members: 2
Electricity usage: 13,509 kWh / 46.1 MM BTU
Fuel oil usage: 160 litres / 5.86 MM BTU
Propane usage: 75 litres / 1.8 MM BTU
Total household energy demand: 53.76 MM BTU

Heating & cooling degree days: 7,154F
Home size: 2,500 sq. ft.
Home age: 41 years

Efficiency Score: 3.0


Hi Paul
That's great !
I like your format, so I'm amending as follows :-

Household members: 1 human, 1 dog, 3 cats
Electricity usage: 4,084 kWh / 13.94 MM BTU
Natural Gas usage: 77,096 cu ft/ 79.02 MM BTU
Total household energy demand: 92.96 MM BTU

Heating & cooling degree days: 7,288F (Chicago)
Home size: 1,767 sq. ft.
Home age: 105 years (frame construction, solar H&HW)

Efficiency Score: 7.2

I guess natural gas is my weak spot...more work to do there...

Hi ST,

We're continuing to transition away from fossil fuels through the substitution of electricity. We run the oil-fired boiler ten to fifteen minutes a day during periods of extended cold weather -- basically, the minimum required to keep the pipes from freezing where they're routed through exterior walls. If we were to simply drain these radiator lines or add antifreeze, our fuel oil consumption would be nil, but I'm afraid the system will develop issues over time if I don't exercise it periodically.

Virtually all of our propane is consumed by the tumble dryer and BBQ. Line or rack drying would likely cut that in half, but the convenience factor (or personal laziness, if you prefer) has prevented me from doing so thus far.


I don't understand why you have omitted petroleum consumption in vehicles . . . the house and vehicles are part of one system. The psuedo-green McMansions out in the woods where the residents drive hundreds of miles a week are not efficient, they are simply hiding the waste in the part of the calculation that is happening off the page.

I prefer the 2000 Watt Society approach.

I simply take my electric bill (already in kWH) and convert my natural gas heat usage to kWh and our car's gasoline usage to kWh, sum them up in a running total (since we bought this house) and divide by number of days.

If I can get our daily usage average down to less than 48 kWh then our average use is less than 2000w continuous.

Currently, counting electric, gasoline, and natural gas, we're at:

Total Daily Avg.
kWh directly used all forms kWh 19977 43.24 kWh
Energy costs total and per day $ $1,590.74 $3.44
2000 w society benchmarks kWh 17520 48
Days Elapsed 462

4.Divide the result by your home’s square footage.

so the greater the sf , the greater the "efficiency" ?

was this formula written by the mcmansion builder's association or what ?

Yes, I noticed that. I agree we should be looking at building smaller houses, but I think the general idea is to try and quantify one's usage in such a way as to be able to identify areas for improvement, and implement changes.

I found the calculation to be a good way of really looking at the numbers. It's pretty eye-opening to see the total energy usage.

Regarding the article on China and rare earths... The Chinese motivation appears to be a matter of "moving up the value chain" rather than denying the rest of the world the benefits of the rare earth elements. That is, they want to sell rare-earth magnets, not the rare earths themselves. There are other significant rare earth deposits, specifically in the US, Canada, Australia, and South Africa. Production from these sources has largely stopped because China set prices so low during the 1990s. Many analysts suggest that China's price advantage is not due to the size or quality of their deposits, but that China has been willing to tolerate low-cost but environmentally nasty mining techniques.

As with so much, timing is critical. In the near term, China could certainly mess things up for other countries. In the longer term, not so much.

Very interesting mcain. I see the same philosophy with China's acquisition of oil resources. Profit is not the immediate key...it's the ability to add value to the process. Not only will their access to rare earth elements aid them to dominate the market but they'll have the energy to produce and ship those magnets to a global market.

There is another angle to it. By refusing to export REMs the Chinese are forcing users of REMs to set up manufactering facilities in China. That gives the Chinese access to Intellectual Property (IP) which they then can use themselves.
The IP issue is a big one, and high tech producers are not keen on giving them that knowledge and are aggressively looking at other geographical locations for REMS.